Chris Gunn

Alright, here is the situation:

You sit quietly, fingers clasped in your lap, thinking about the sequence: Pick up some speed, drop in and go huge on the first wall, grabbing mute and seting up for the next wall where you spice it up with a front side 720 and stomp it. Keep up your speed, the next wall approaches and you launch into a switch 540 followed by a backside 540 on the opposite wall. Your run is almost done, but before you call it quits you throw a McTwist, a gigantic Lein Air and a front side 1080.

The snow is falling all around you, as you imagine each movement and slip into a state of complete focus. The crowd noise is deafening, cameras are flashing but it does not matter, because you know why you are here, and you have been preparing for this moment since the first time you strapped on a snowboard and felt the exhilaration of coasting freely on a soft blanket of snow. You were born for this, and the Winter X Games have given you the opportunity to show your skills in competing against some of the best extreme athletes in the world.

Ten years ago, the Winter X Games were born with the intention of exposing alternative sports to audiences on a global level. Before that, it was just a pipe-dream shared by winter sports enthusiasts around the globe.

Last week, Winter X Games 10 was held Jan. 28 through Jan. 31 at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colo. The event showed the world how much competitive alternative sports have grown from a pipe-dream to a flat-out reality, since its advent in the early `90s.

The event was broadcast over the course of 15 hours of live programming and 19 hours of total original programming to over 190 countries around the world, according to the ESPN Web site.

The X Games have become an international hub for alternative sports and have influenced the increased presence of alternative sports like snowboarding in the world spotlight.

In 1998, three Winter X events were recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Men and women’s: snowboard half pipe, snowboard cross and snowboarding parallel giant slalom.

What does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? The advancement of all 13 Winter X events to levels never before seen in competition.

When I was growing up, the X Games were new and hardly simple, but the tricks that athletes were pulling were far less difficult than the tricks that athletes in all disciplines are pulling today.

One only has to look at the X Games as the main contributing factor in the popularity explosion of alternative sports around the world.

The X Games not only force athletes to push the envelope in order to make the cut, but it has also inspired the legitimacy of numerous sports that were formerly more like expressions of rebellion than competitive sports.

In a way, one might think that the X Games has made it possible for kids that are not gifted in a traditional sports-sense to find their niche in the athletic community.

Essentially, the expansion of these alternative sports has given kids a chance to break stereotypes, become focused and, in some cases, achieve high levels of success. At the very least, the X Games have given kids around the country and the world, inspiration.

In 10 years, heroes have emerged, barriers have been shattered, stereotypes have been broken down and a world community has been formed.

Chris Gunn is a journalism senior and assistant sports editor. You can e-mail him at cgunn@calpoly.edu.

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